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The Hold Steady: Church, Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll

Craig Finn, center, with members of The Hold Steady
Craig Finn, center, with members of The Hold Steady

The Hold Steady's Separation Sunday is one of the best-reviewed records of the year. Singer/songwriter Craig Finn weaves tales rooted in his suburban Minneapolis youth, where driving an hour to make it to a punk show on Saturday night doesn't mean you'll miss Sunday morning mass.

Finn pads his band's songs densely with both musical and verbal allusions to its predecessors. In the music, you can hear traces of Springsteen and Thin Lizzy; in the lyrics, you might encounter anyone from Elizabeth Shue to Andre Cymone. If those names don't ring a bell, see the song links at left to get some background.

The band's latest album, Separation Sunday, is a concept album about a teen girl in suburban Minneapolis, torn between the allure of drugs and sex and the pull of her Catholic upbringing. The Biblical references on the album reflect Finn's having grown up in a devout Catholic family.

The Hold Steady's profile is getting higher: Earlier this year, they landed on the cover of The Village Voice, and the band just sold out two shows at New York's Bowery Ballroom. Jacob Ganz visits with the band as it makes its first network television appearance.

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